Fire drop fourth game straight
The Chicago Fire is in a slump, plain and simple.
At least the team hopes that's all it is.
With Saturday night's 2-1 loss to expansion side Minnesota United FC - the first MLS road victory for the Loons - the Fire is in free fall, having lost its last four games and six of its last seven. The last two were at home after going undefeated at Toyota Park the first 11 games there this season.
"Everyone's frustrated, but we're going to try to stay positive and get out of this," captain Dax McCarty said after the Fire (12-9-5, 41 points) dropped to fourth place in the Eastern Conference.
The Fire dominated all the stats except goals, sending a whopping 20 shots toward the Minnesota goal but only 4 on frame. The Fire's only goal came from David Accam in the 77th minute, but it wasn't enough to erase the 2 goals Abu Danladi scored for the Loons in the first half.
"It's a simple game," McCarty said. "If you give the other team breakaways and tap-ins, you're going to concede goals. And then on the other end if it takes you 25 shots to score one goal, it's not a recipe for winning many games."
The cushion the Fire built in the standings in May and June has evaporated. Chicago is just 5 points from dropping out of the playoffs.
"Yeah, absolutely," McCarty said. "We've always had a sense of urgency, but clearly now with the way things have gone the past couple of games, I think that needs to be ramped up to another level. The playoffs are certainly not a certainty right now."
"No one said this was going to be easy and this is exactly what we were talking about when some point this season we were all celebrating the great season so far and the great performance of the team," Fire coach Veljko Paunovic said. "It wasn't done and it's done even now. We are not happy to see the latest results obviously and everyone wants to fix this things as soon as possible, but we have to keep together, we have to keep working, we have to fix it and we have to stick together and understand that only the work, the unity and commitment will bring us back on our winning streak."
The Fire has bragged all season about the character, experience and leadership on this team. It's fair to ask where those qualities are now.
Midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger, the Fire's $5.4 million man, found his first assist since June 24 on the Accam goal. He hasn't scored since April 15. His frustration was apparent throughout the game, picking up a yellow card in the 84th minute and having words with referee Kevin Stott after the final whistle.
Schweinsteiger declined to talk to the media after the game.